As Hizzoner spends his holiday weekend at Bernie’s and again tries to scratch his national-attention itch, let’s survey some of the things worth investigating in de Blasio’s New York now that he’s fired his investigation commissioner, Mark Peters, who’d combined a surprisingly independent streak in that traditionally tame watchdog position with an abusive and insulting attitude that finally gave the mayor cause and political cover to fire him.
Start with this administration’s decision to overrule Controller Scott Stringer’s rejection and have the city — as in us! — foot $2.6 million of the bill for de Blasio’s criminal defense, since that supposedly related to his public duties while just $300,000 more was supposedly related to his private actions. De Blasio — who insists he was vindicated after prosecutors in 2016 publicly admonished him for violating the spirit of the law as they reluctantly chose not to charge him for pay-to-play politicking — wriggled off the hook for bribe-taking even as two of his bribe-givers are now convicted felons.
Prosecutors played a video of one of those felons, Jona Rechnitz, as he testified for them last week at the trial of his alleged partner-in-crime Jeremy Reichberg and former NYPD Deputy Inspector Jimmy Grant.
“We’re going to go park in the chief of department’s extra spot,” Rechnitz says as he and Reichberg cruise into One Police Plaza. “Welcome to January of 2014. This is the new way of life.”
The chief of department, the highest-ranking uniformed position in the NYPD, was then Phil Banks, who de Blasio had hoped would be his next police commissioner. Banks says he will plead the Fifth if called to testify at Grant’s trial, where de Blasio has also been subpoenaed.
Rechnitz adds as they drive past a cop standing outside in the cold, “Please salute us, officer, if you want to keep your job.”
That was followed by footage of Rechnitz and Reichberg wearing elves’ caps as they home-delivered gifts to the wives and children of the other NYPD leaders who joined the bribers on private flights to the Super Bowl to party with hookers.
Also last week, the state’s highest court ruled that the city can’t regulate charter schools’ pre-k programs, which it’s furiously fought to do as part of de Blasio’s long beef with his former Council rival and now-Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz. That decision happened to come on the same day that the state education commissioner issued new guidelines giving her office the power to remove public funding from yeshivas that fail to deliver any secular education.
When he was fired, Peters was investigating the city’s supposedly ongoing “investigation” of those yeshivas, where there’s every sign that a final report, more than two years overdue, will end up as a whitewash for de Blasio’s allies in the ultra-Orthodox world who want to keep collecting public money for schools that produce graduates who literally can’t read or write in English.
The same day that Peters was fired, the NYPD announced that it was removing Deputy Chief Michael Osgood as head of the sex crimes unit, in which role he’d spoken to DOI about the urgent need for more resources in a unit so badly under-funded and over-stretched that the department had simply stopped forwarding it allegations of acquaintance or date rape.
DOI, by the way, also oversees the NYPD IG, so the City Council will have plenty to dig into when its members consider de Blasio’s pick to replace Peters, state executive deputy attorney general and former Manhattan federal prosecutor Margaret Garnett, to ensure before confirming her that she will continue the probes her predecessor had been in the midst of and maintain the independence he brought to the office.